Managing nutrients for maximum soybean yields

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Soybean farmers in both the United States and Canada, strive to constantly achieve higher yields. Horst Bohner has been the soybean specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture for 20 years. In that time, he has studied factors impacting soybean yield in a number of growing environments and field conditions.

“Yield potential is not held back as much by heat units and day length and water as I used to think,” Bohner said. “We used to say that yield was made in August, that if you got a lot of rain then you would get a big crop. But over the years, I have seen that if you have the right year, with the right additives, and the right management, we can get some incredible yields.”

Bohner has pondered the question, “What is the fundamental difference between a part of a field that yields 50 bushels per acre (bu/ac) and a part of a field that yields 100 bu/ac?”

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Annual Grain Safety Week event focuses on bins

Today, six of every 10 workers trapped in a grain bin don’t make it out alive. This is a frightening reality, but one that the nation’s 8,378 off-farm grain storage facilities’ operators can change by following common sense approaches that truly may be the difference between life and death.  

How to make these changes will be the focus of the 5th annual Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week, from March 29 through April 2, 2021. The event is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, the Grain Elevator and Processing Society and the National Grain and Feed Association

“Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week will bring industry professionals together to focus on how small changes can eliminate dangerous hazards that can cause great harm to their employees,” said Jim Frederick, principal deputy assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health.… Continue reading

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USDA seeks innovative partner-led projects delivering sustainable agricultural solutions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking proposals to fund up to $75 million in new, unique projects under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program’s (RCPP) Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) that take innovative and non-traditional approaches to conservation solutions at the local, regional and landscape scales. In making selections. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will prioritize projects related to climate smart agriculture and forestry.  

NRCS will fund up to 15 projects this year through AFA, where partners have more flexibility in working directly with agricultural producers to support the development of new conservation structures and approaches that would not otherwise be effectively implemented through the classic RCPP.

“Collaboration and partnership are leading to advanced conservation delivery on working lands, both rural and urban,” said Terry Cosby, Acting Chief of NRCS. “We want to continue funding projects that harness the power of partnership and innovation to develop solutions that benefit producers while conserving our natural resources.”… Continue reading

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Daylight Savings Time and farmers

By Ray Atkinson, director of communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

It is a debate that come up every spring. On Sunday, March 14, at 2 a.m., we all set our clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Saving Time, the annual springtime ritual that gives us an extra hour of sunlight in the evening. First enacted by Congress in 1918, Daylight Saving Time has been with us for almost a century, but through the years there have been a lot of misconceptions about why it was adopted and who’s responsible. 
One of the leading authorities on Daylight Saving Time was Tufts University professor Michael Downing. He literally wrote the book on Daylight Saving Time and was widely cited by national media including The Washington PostNational Geographic and The History Channel
In his book Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, Dowling said that DST was first proposed as a way to save energy, but since then many people have mistakenly attributed it to farmers. … Continue reading

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BASF strengthens innovation pipeline for sustainable agriculture

BASF strengthens its activities in research and development (R&D) for sustainable agricultural innovations to continue helping farmers to overcome environmental and economic challenges as well as meeting consumers’ demand for more sustainably produced food. With solutions launching throughout the next decade, the pipeline supports the company’s goal to annually increase its sales share of agricultural solutions with substantial contribution to sustainability by 7%.

By 2030, more than 30 major R&D projects will complement BASF’s connected offer of seeds and seed treatment products, chemical and biological solutions, as well as digital services. This brings the pipeline to an estimated peak sales potential of more than €7.5 billion. In 2020, BASF spent €840 million in Agricultural Solutions R&D, representing around 11% of the segment’s sales. In 2021, the company will continue to invest in agricultural R&D at a high level.

“BASF leads in solutions for sustainable agriculture. In addition to developing innovations, we also provide a connected offer, combining effective products as well as new technologies and services, tailored to farmers’ needs,” said Paul Rea, Senior Vice President, BASF Agricultural Solutions North America.… Continue reading

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Meeting soybean fertility needs

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

One goal of the Ohio Soybean Council is to make Ohio’s soybean farmers more profitable. With the task of increasing soybean yields and increasing the return on investment (ROI), a number of production practices are often considered. One of those practices, often promoted by ag retailers, is the application of foliar fertilizer.

In a multi-state trial conducted in 2019 and 2020 by Emma Matcham, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin, prophylactic foliar fertilizer was applied and evaluated.

“A prophylactic application means that in the trial we were applying fertilizer before there was noticeable nutrient deficiency expressed in the crop,” Matcham said. “For this research, 46 trials were conducted in 16 states across the eastern half of the U.S. Some of the products included macronutrients such as nitrogen (N), potassium (K), and sulfur (S), some micronutrients, and some products included a combination.… Continue reading

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Building soil carbon

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

There is renewed interest in paying farmers to sequester soil carbon by building soil organic matter (SOM) levels.  Building soil carbon is dependent upon temperature, moisture, vegetation, tillage, soil texture, crop rotation,  and microbial activity.  Soil is a major storehouse for carbon and carbon dioxide.  Ohio soils originally had 5-6% soil organic matter (50-60 tons decomposed SOM) in the top furrow slice (6.7 inches) of soil. Most Ohio soils today only have about 2-3% SOM, so an additional 2-4% SOM could be added.

Temperature, moisture, and vegetation controlled most carbon and SOM storage historically. Tropical areas have lower SOM while colder soils store more carbon in SOM. Tropical carbon is stored above ground while colder climates store carbon in the soil due to limited temperature and moisture.  Every 100F temperature increase will double microbial activity and releases carbon as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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USDA seeks public comment on revised conservation practice standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards through a posting in the Federal Register. The proposed revisions will publish March 9 with comments due April 8.

“NRCS wants to ensure that the standards used to carry out the conservation practices are relevant to local agricultural, forestry and natural resource needs,” Acting NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said. “We are revising conservation practice standards to make sure they are the best technology and address the needs of producers and the natural resources on their land.”

The 2018 Farm Bill required NRCS to review all 169 existing national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies to help the nation’s farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners better protect natural resources on their working lands. In 2020, 57 conservation practice standards were updated after public review and are available on the NRCS website.… Continue reading

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Crop insurance deadline March 15

Department of Insurance Director Judith L. French is reminding Ohio farmers that March 15 is the final date to purchase or modify federal crop insurance coverage on 2021 spring-planted crops.

“Ohio farmers should consider whether crop insurance fits in their risk management plans,” French said. “We can help in that process. We have a listing on our website of agents licensed to sell crop insurance and provide guidance.”

Federally subsidized, multiple-peril crop insurance covers certain weather, pest, and revenue related losses. This coverage is dependent on crop establishment and reporting dates determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) that farmers must meet. The dates vary by crop and county and are available at State-regulated policies for damage caused by hail and fire are also available with additional requirements.

Ohio farmers can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 and visit to find insurance agents licensed to sell crop insurance.… Continue reading

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Economics of soil health evaluated

Improving soil health can help farmers build drought resilience, increase nutrient availability, suppress diseases, reduce erosion and nutrient losses, and increase economic benefits according to recent Soil Health Institute research. 

“In addition to benefiting farmers and their land, many soil health management systems also benefit the broader environment by storing soil carbon, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving water quality,” said Wayne Honeycutt, president and CEO, Soil Health Institute (SHI). “However, investing in soil health is also a business decision, and information regarding the economic benefits of adopting soil health practices was limited until the Institute’s recent evaluation.”

To address this information gap, Cargill and SHI partnered to assess the economics of soil health management systems and provide farmers with the economic information they need when deciding whether to adopt regenerative soil health systems.  

SHI researchers interviewed 100 farmers across nine states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Tennessee) who adopted soil health systems to acquire production information such as tillage practices, nutrient management, pest management, yield changes, and others.… Continue reading

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Thomas Puch recognized as 2021 Ohio CCA of the Year at CTTC

Day one of the 2021 Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference included the recognition of Thomas Puch of Carrollton, Ohio as the 2021 CCA of the Year by the Ohio Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Program. 

Puch is an agronomist at Heritage Cooperative, responsible for developing nutrient management plans, making weed management and seed recommendations, taking soil samples, scouting, and much more. His total-farm approach helps growers improve profitability, while also increasing their awareness of environmentally beneficial and sustainable practices.  

“Tom looks for all ways to improve a grower’s bottom line and help them be successful, he believes the growers success is his success,” said Michelle Egli, who nominated Puch for the award. “Tom continues to adapt new technologies and help growers to be sustainable into the ever-changing agricultural industry. He continually strives to help shape and better the industry for the next generation.”

According to Egli and grower John Martig, who also nominated Puch for the award, Puch is a mentor to young farmers and agribusiness professionals.… Continue reading

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Spring nitrogen for wheat

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc. 

Application timing and amount are key factors in achieving high winter wheat yields. While the amount of N required in the fall is relatively small, it is critical to promoting early development and tillering. With spring weather around the corner, winter wheat producers will be gearing up for spring topdress of their wheat crop. Timing and rates are critical in the spring as to maintain the high yield potential of winter wheat varieties.

Spring applications of N should be made after the plants break dormancy. Although in some situations field conditions may be favorable, nitrogen applied in the late winter before plants have broken dormancy is more likely to be lost before plants can utilize it. Spring N applications should not be made before wheat has broken dormancy and begins to green up. The University of Kentucky publication “A Comprehensive Guide to Wheat Management in Kentucky” recommends: “When making a single N fertilizer application the best time is when the crop growth stage is Feekes 4-5, (Zadoks 30, usually mid-March) just before the first joint appears on the main stem and when wheat starts growing rapidly.”… Continue reading

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Virtual Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference 2021

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

The annual Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference (CTC) will be virtual this year. Instead of the usual 2-day conference at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, CTC 2021 will be held on FOUR days, March 9-12 (Tuesday-Friday). There will be 5 hours of content each day. Tuesday will feature Crop Management information; Wednesday will focus on Nutrient Management; Thursday will highlight Pest Management; and Friday will cover Soil & Water Management. Each day will start at 8:00 a.m., and with breaks, finish about 2:00 p.m.

Panel discussions are a great format to get good information from varying perspectives. The Monday “Crop Talk at CTC” programs feature 5 panel discussion groups throughout the day.

Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean and Small Grains specialist

The morning begins at 8:00 a.m. with a discussion titled “Maximizing Soybean Yield,” featuring Dr Laura Lindsey from Ohio State, Horst Bohner from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, and Shawn Conley from the University of Wisconsin.

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Improving drainage with cover crops

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

As the weather warms and snow melts, many fields are saturated with standing water.  While cover crops may improve drainage, they are not a cure all.  A farmer with no tile or subsurface drainage once asked why the cover crop’s he planted did not improve his drainage. Fields need an outlet for water to drain away whether that be surface drainage or subsurface (tile) drainage. Most plant roots do not grow in water, and when the water table is high, root growth is severely limited due to a lack of oxygen. Even cover crops needs some internal drainage to maximize root growth.

Cover crops improve soil structure, add soil organic matter (SOM), and create root channels to move water into existing tile lines.  Cover crops may make your existing drainage system work more efficiently.  Many farmers today are splitting 40 to 50-foot tile lines that was installed years ago to improve drainage. 

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ASA sets policy

Members of the American Soybean Association (ASA) have completed the organization’s annual resolutions process to set the tone and direction for policy advocacy in the weeks and months ahead.

As is typical with any “out with the old, in with the new” activity, the organization aims each year to build on sound existing resolutions by adapting where needed and supplementing with new resolutions to address emerging priorities. One such example of a soy priority on which the organization is focusing more this year is climate and conservation.

“Throughout this year’s document we recognize the role that climate and conservation will play in policy discussions in 2021, from thoughtfully addressing development of public and private ecosystem services markets to promoting precision agriculture technology as a tool to improve environmental stewardship while providing economic returns for growers,” said Kevin Scott, ASA president and soybean farmer from Valley Springs, South Dakota.

Changes and additions for 2021 run the full gamut.… Continue reading

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Addressing corn establishment challenges

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist 

Increased precipitation and extended cold periods into May have resulted in extended/late corn planting for at least parts of Ohio in many recent years. A reduced number of field days in April can be documented with the trend from 1995 to 2020 for five less working days. The prediction for 2021 looks like it will extend this pattern. The La Nina pattern appears to have kicked in, with more moisture and an Arctic outbreak giving us a snowy February. 

Aaron Wilson, Byrd Polar Research Center and OSU Extension Climatologist, expects the active La Nina pattern to continue into spring planting season. Precipitation will transition to more rain as we head into March and April. The current Ohio spring outlook is for above average precipitation through at least May-June.  His current temperature outlook calls for a warmer than average spring — a typical impact of a La Nina pattern.… Continue reading

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Commodity Classic 2021 – The State of U.S. Soy

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

The 2021 Commodity Classic features a number of informational sessions ranging on topics from grain marketing, to crop production, to farm policy. One of the kick-off sessions for soybean farmers was “The State of U.S. Soy.” The roundtable discussion hosted by Tyne Morgan featured Dan Farney, Soybean Farmer from Illinois and Chairman of the United Soybean Board (USB); Meagan Kaiser, Missouri Soybean Farmer and Treasurer of the USB; David Iverson, Farmer from South Dakota and Secretary of the USB; and Belinda Burrier, Maryland Soybean Farmer and Director and Marketplace Chair for USB.

Success for soybean farmers in today’s market takes more than just a yield at harvest. Increasing demand for soybeans is an essential part of the equation. The soybean checkoff helps facilitate market growth and creation by funding and directing marketing, research and commercialization programs.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Linder taking the lead for the nation’s corn growers through Commodity Classic

By Matt Reese

Ethanol, trade and farm sustainability are three key topics for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) getting plenty of attention at the virtual 2021 Commodity Classic.

John Linder from Morrow County spelled out these key messages for the nation’s corn growers as the current president of NCGA. Linder grows corn, soybeans, wheat and seed beans on his farm near Edison, Ohio, but his focus this week has been on the state of the national corn industry. Top of mind in the current political climate is a science-based look at climate change.

“With both our optimistic nature and our long history of our bipartisan advocacy we will use that to complement NCGA’s drive to capitalize on the opportunities we see within this Biden Administration. It is well known that the Biden-Harris administration has chosen to address climate change as a top priority,” Linder said during the opening General Session of Commodity Classic.… Continue reading

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Increasing fertilizer prices may force tough decisions

By Barry WardJohn Barker, Ohio State University Extension

The profit margin outlook for corn, soybeans and wheat is relatively positive as planting season approaches. Prices of all three of our main commodity crops have moved higher since last summer and forward prices for this fall are currently at levels high enough to project positive returns for 2021 crop production. Recent increases in fertilizer prices, however, have negatively affected projected returns. Higher crop insurance costs as well as moderately higher energy costs relative to last year will also add to overall costs for 2021.

Production costs for Ohio field crops are forecast to be modestly higher compared to last year with higher fertilizer, fuel and crop insurance expenses. Variable costs for corn in Ohio for 2021 are projected to range from $386 to $470 per acre depending on land productivity. Variable costs for 2021 Ohio soybeans are projected to range from $216 to $242 per acre.… Continue reading

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I know we are supposed to already know the basics, but sometimes we forget

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension

One of my buddies often takes calls and visits fields where a problem has occurred. And although he doesn’t say this to the grower or crop consultant he visits with, afterward he tells me “it’s the agronomy, stupid.”

I have taught from the Ohio Agronomy Guide this year and used it for some excerpts a couple of other times as well — and even I forget what is in there. I sat last evening with one of our county folks — a good one, Bruce Clevenger — and an industry agronomist. We went through the Agronomy Guide and just kept finding these words of wisdom. I hope you will read through the publication but I want to share some of the nuggets that Bruce and I found:

  • How is CEC determined? 
    • Page 28 — CEC = ppm Ca/200 + ppm Mg/121 + ppm K/390 + 1.2 x (7-BpH).
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